ABOUT

WonderFool Productions is a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging communities in dynamic, educational, collaborative and entertaining public art experiences.

We bring together organizations, schools, businesses, and individual artists to create free and unique art events to the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti communities.

WonderFool Productions produces two Ann Arbor events each April: FestiFools and FoolMoon, and has recently partnered with the Ypsilanti community to create a new Halloween-time event: ypsiGLOW.

The Inspiration

Mark Tucker, Arts Director at the University of Michigan Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, began his professional artistic career as Art Director for the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade. While in this role, Mark traveled to Europe to learn the fine art of cartapesta (papier mâché) from esteemed float builders in Viareggio, Italy. If you’re familiar with Superior Concept Monsters, then you may have an inkling of the FestiFools’ vibe.

Inspired by the magnificent, huge, bizarre, politically incorrect, human powered and fully animated floats, Mark decided to see if this kind of creative energy could find an audience back home.

In 2006 he teamed up with Shoshana Hurand, a former LHSP student (and then graduate student), who saw the hands on creation of public art as a great opportunity for people of different backgrounds to build relationships, learn from one another, and make their voices heard by the world.

Mark and Shoshana set out to turn a whimsical idea into a reality. Starting with a class of 20 non-art majors in Mark’s LHSP “Art in Public Spaces” class, they went to work welcoming students, community members, and anyone looking for a chance to be creative and meet new people.

On April 1, 2007, FestiFools exploded onto Ann Arbor’s Main Street with enormous papier-mâché creatures, Stomp like music courtesy of UM student group GROOVE, and hundreds of participants from across the community. From the 200+ students in Nick Tobier and Holly Hughes’s School of Art & Design classes, to Kelly Quinn’s College of Urban Planning students, to a broad spectrum of community members that donned masks and joined the festivities, FestiFools 2007 achieved its vision of bringing people out into the streets for fun-filled, artistic Foolery.

The event received praise from The Ann Arbor News editorial board. Mayor John Hieftje even presented us with a Golden Paintbrush Award (for excellence in public art) upon the condition that FestiFools return in 2008 as an annual, Ann Arbor tradition. Now supported by U-M in a permanent, 2500 sq. ft. facility, with 2 LHSP classes devoted to the creation of this unique artistic event, FestiFools is destined to be one of the crown jewels in Ann Arbor’s cultural and artistic offerings for many years to come.